foxygen

In a relatively short period of time, Foxygen has managed to please, vex and elude a lot of listeners. Needlessly so, it seems. Over the course of a afternoon in conversation at member Jonathan Rado’s Los Angeles home, what emerges is that in spite of anyone’s desire to nail down outside influences, Foxygen is about two lifelong friends being on the same page. Almost four years since we last caught up with them, the duo of Rado and Sam France expounded on the conception and execution of their new album, Hang, how they’ve evolved as performers and record-makers, and the misconception that annoys them still.

Aquarium Drunkard: In 2012, when first speaking with us about Take The Kids Off Broadway, you were already plotting the release of We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, but you also said at the time that after that you planned to release a record called … And Star Power and then one called Hang. And now, here we are. So…how long has this record actually been gestating?

Sam France: Well, I guess it’s been a long time.

Jonathan Rado: It’s been probably since around that time. I would say that is pretty much around the time we came up with the title and the idea. Because we had recorded that song [“Hang” from … And Star Power] around that time, three-and a half years ago – the version that’s on that record, before we’d even begun recording for that record. And we knew then that we wanted to call an album Hang as well. That was a fresh idea when we brought it up to you.

AD: So how didactic was that planning? Did that mean that you sort of created a schedule, “we’re gonna do this, then this, then that” or was it more of a fun idea to kick around?

Sam France: Kinda like it’s our schedule, that’s how we do stuff.

Jonathan Rado: We’re lucky we were able to, we always planned on doing it.

AD: From then until the actual recording for this record, how did your vision and conception change?

Jonathan Rado: We actually wrote the songs back then – we had the idea that we wanted to do Hang and that we wanted to do it with an orchestra – that was always the idea, to do it with big arrangements and have it be a complete piece of music. The 21st album hadn’t even come out yet, so we recorded that, then we started making … And Star Power and focused really intently on that. A lot of these songs were really written during or before Star Power. We had the sound, conceptually, sketched out already.

AD: One of the things that came up when last spoke was that the material you were releasing and performing then had actually be completed for a while, and whether you were already over-it in a way. It seems like you’re still in that boat – it’s not like you could say you’ve had some nice down time in between records – you’re doing the same thing again. How does that feel?

Jonathan Rado: We’re constantly thinking ahead. We’re slightly more caught up than we were at that point. We’re already gestating the next couple of records, the next album at least is starting to form. At that point, back in 2012, we were anxious, we had too many ideas. Too many ideas to even begin to start to make. We’ve gotten a bit older and have caught up with ourselves, we have a more natural schedule but we’re still ahead of the game a little bit.

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Composer Josiah Steinbrick suggests that LIVE, the new four-song EP (mini-LP, maybe?) by his Banana ensemble is “For those in search of a bath, a rinse, a departure, or an expansion.” Who among us couldn’t go for that? Recorded live on reel to reel tape for airing as a special program on Dublab, LIVE taps into Steinbrink’s inspirations. The recordings bubble with Steve Reich-style repetition, employ Saturnian melodies inspired by Sun Ra, and explore the alien pop landscapes of Arthur Russell. As a project, Banana keys into Yellow Magic Orchestra’s dissection of the “exotica” concept and dives into Jon Hassell’s Fourth World aesthetic, blending global sounds, jazz, minimalism, neoclassicism, and new age, as part of “an ongoing questioning of the dichotomies between North and South, sacred and sensual, primitive and futurist.”

This incarnation of Banana is a stacked one, with Huw Evans, Stephen Black, Cate Le Bon, Josh Klinghoffer, and Stella Mozgawa joining Steinbrink (the lineup also performed as Le Bon’s band for her Crab Day promotional tour). The band’s interplay is truly special. On “Banana A,” they lock into a pulsing groove, which opens wider and wider as the composition pushes on. “Banana B” explicitly evokes the genre-bent forms of Arthur Russell, Black’s clarinet and Evans’ guitar duetting over piano chording. “Banana C” revisits the minimalist textures of the opening song, but feels looser, with blurting sax and jazzy piano rolls over a looping bass riff. On the closer “Banana D,” the band departs for entirely serene terrains, with only sparse reed work accompanying Steinbrink’s pastoral playing, which evokes the measured tones of Erik Satie.

In an interview with the influential online music magazine Perfect Sound Forever, Hassell once explained his Fourth World aims: “Fourth World is an entire week of Saturdays. It’s about heart and head as the same thing. It’s about being transported to some place which is made up of both real and virtual geography.” On LIVE, Steinbrick and co. inhabit Hassell’s philosophy, creating soundscapes in which the spiritual and intellectual mingle. words/j woodbury

Banana LIVE comes out January 27th via Leaving Records.

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Including Shirley Collins’ album Lodestar in our 2016 Year in Review feature, we wrote:

“Returning with her first recording in 38 years, song collector, treasurer, and interpreter Shirley Collins unites ancient English folk ballads to Cajun reveries, presenting even Lodestar’s 16th century material resolutely in the present tense. She finds dark humor and pathos in these songs, her voice, regained after years of disuse and sickness, sounding warm and present. Surrounded by fiddle and hurdy-gurdy, Collins presents the traditional as avant-garde and her relationship to these songs goes far beyond singer into the realm of inhabitation.”

At 81, Lodestar finds Collins in fine form. It connects to her earliest works — which helped spark the English folk revival — but is rooted in the present. AD spoke with her about putting the record together.

Shirley Collins :: Cruel Lincoln

Aquarium Drunkard: Lodestar is a captivating record. You’ve long struggled with dysphonia but began singing again in 2014, at the behest of David Tibet of Current 93. When and how did it start to feel possible for you that you’d make another record?

Shirley Collins: Well I guess after the gig at Union Chapel, London in February 2014, when David Tibet persuaded me to sing after years away from the live stage. David proposed to make an EP of the two songs (“All the Pretty Little Horses” and “Death and the Lady”). But there were other songs I wanted to sing, and with a bit of encouragement, and an offer from Domino, I went ahead.

AD: How did it feel recording again?

Shirley Collins: Anxious at first, but then I really started to enjoy the process as I was working with such good and understanding musicians. Also, the technology had caught up with me, and we were able to record at home. In a way, it was like making a field recording.

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(We originally shared this session in January 2011 shortly after Trish Keenan’s passing. I re-aired the set last month on the radio show. As promised, here it is, re-upped, after the jump.)

If you never had the pleasure of seeing Broadcast on tour, particularly in their early years with keyboardist Roj Stevens and guitarist Tim Felton, then this is for you. Actually, this is for everyone. It’s a dark and saddening time for fans of the band since the recent and sudden passing of singer/multi-instrumentalist Trish Keenan. But I can’t think of a better way to celebrate her life than to spread the group’s music around to as many people as possible. Broadcast’s Black Session from Paris, France – May 4th, 2000 is a perfect representation of their trademark electronic art-pop, Trish’s amazing voice and the band’s ability to transform experimental recordings into beautiful live performances.

This set features the original lineup that toured in support of their spectacular debut album, The Noise Made By People. It also includes all of those quirky electronic segues and dissonance between tracks, along with stellar renditions of early singles, albums cuts and B-sides like “Message From Home“, “Where Youth and Laughter Go“, “Echo’s Answer” and more. words/ s. mcdonald

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Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 465: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Ryo Kawasaki – Raisins ++ Herbie Hancock – The Twilight Clone ++ James Mason – Sweet Power of Your Embrace ++ Talking Heads – Double Groove (Outtake) ++ David Bowie – Fashion ++ The Headhunters – If You’ve Got It, You’ll Get It (AD edit) ++ CAN – All Gates Open ++ Cate Le Bon – Rock Pool ++ Abadane – Freedom (Hourya) ++ Lucio Battisti – Dio Mio No ++ Faust – It’s A Bit of A Pain ++ Kraftwerk – Transistor ++ Trinidad And Tabago Steel All Stars – Do Your Thing ++ Arica – I Am The Center ++ Neil Ardley – Leap In The Dark ++ CAN – Babylonian Pearl ++ DJ Shadow – Mutual Slump (AD edit) ++ Funkadelic – I Wanna Know If It’s Good To You? ++ Hermanos Calatrava – Space Oddity ++ Nina Simone – Be My Husband ++ Henri Salvador – Pauvre Jesus-Christ ++ 6six – I’m Just Like You ++  Idris Muhammad – Loran’s Dance ++ Henri Texier – Les là-bas ++ Dorothy Ashby – The Moving Finger ++ Shintaro Sakamoto – Mask On Mask ++ Georges Happi – Hello Friends ++ Faust – It’s A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl (AD edit) ++ Radio Commercial / Remain in Light ++ Talking Heads – Fela’s Riff (Unfinished Outtake) ++ Talking Heads – Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) ++ Bobby Hutcherson – NTU

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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GOLD STAR

Gold Star is Marlon Rabenreither. On his forthcoming lp, Big Blue — named after the ramshackle Hollywood home where he produced and recorded the album — Rabenreither shines and redefines the sound of his last two efforts. A Los Angeles native, the resulting album is an autobiographical work as indebted to writers Fante, Baldwin and Chandler as it is Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Wilco. Out in March via Autumn Tone, this is the first taste.

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“My name is Jerry Garcia. I play banjo on the old-timey songs and guitar on the bluegrass songs. And do a lot of lead singing too. Which I am not proud of.”

With a bit of self-deprecation and a guffaw we pay witness to the earliest known studio artifacts of Jerry Garcia. A scant 20 years old at the time, Garcia’s group (the formerly named Thunder Mountain Tub Thumpers) included future Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter (on upright bass) and New Riders of the Purple Sage co-founder David Nelson (on guitar). Recorded in 1962, at Stanford University’s KZSU studio for the station’s Folk Time program, the lost session resided in producer Ted Claire’s closest for nearly 50 years before being unearthed in 2008.

Employing Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music as their guidebook, the 17-song session captures Garcia and cohorts attempting to both echo their elders and refine their chops as professional musicians. Though juvenile only in their playing hours, all 5 members (Ken Frankel on banjo, fiddle, and guitar and Norm Van Maastricht rounded out the group) pour their hearts out, with their youthful fumbles and follies only adding to the character and charm of the session. While traditionalists might cover their ears and decree blasphemy, these recordings (especially “Sitting On Top of the World” which would find itself frequently played by the Grateful Dead) are a true testament to the evolution of Garcia’s career. Only a few short years later he would blend his bluegrass and jug band roots with the electric fury of American and British Rock ’n’ Roll and like they say – the rest is history. words / d norsen

Hart Valley Drifters :: Sitting On Top Of The World